Topeka Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. says he will work to get the state to pay the overhead costs of the Lawrence SRS office, but he hasn’t requested that money in his budget.
“We are going to work with the Legislature,” Siedlecki told members of the House-Senate Oversight Committee on Home and Community Based Services this week.
When asked if he had requested that funding in his budget proposal submitted to his boss, Gov. Sam Brownback, Siedlecki said he hadn’t.
“Not for this year,” he said. “We have two years to work with the Legislature. We promised to make a good-faith effort,” he said.
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, chair of the committee, said some may question why Lawrence is “picking up the tab” and not other towns that have SRS offices.
The issue stems from SRS’ decision in July to close nine local offices, including the one in Lawrence, which was by far the biggest of the planned closures. Siedlecki and Brownback said the decision was a cost-cutting move.
Officials in Lawrence said shutting the SRS office would have created havoc in delivering social services to thousands of residents.
The city and county then agreed to pay $450,000 to the state to keep the office open for two years. That will cover rent, utilities and other costs. Some other towns made similar deals.
Under the agreement, Siedlecki promised to try to get adequate state funding in fiscal years after July 1, 2013, to keep the Lawrence office open.
Siedlecki said he will be glad to meet with legislators during the next session, which starts in January, to start to determine that funding.